The Power of Patterns My friend and the lead guitar player for The Southbound Suspects, Phil Allen, put himself through law school at the University of Florida by singing and playing his guitar in bars around Gainesville. Years later Phil still wows audiences by performing his prodigious repertoire of songs.
People are amazed at all the tunes Phil knows and call him a human jukebox. After they request an obscure Crosby, Stills & Nash title, maybe, or something by Phil Ochs, they ask Phil how he’s memorized so many songs. But as Phil told me, he memorizes the lyrics, not the music. Phil knows what notes to play because he recognizes the patterns the songs follow.
The Southbound Suspects — Phil Allen, Burt Bruton, Mary Coreaux, Joe Arencebia, Andy Waks, Bruce Turkel
My mother has a good friend who is a linguist. Although she speaks five or six languages, my mom’s friend says she can communicate with people in languages she doesn’t speak because most rudimentary conversations follow similar patterns. A server in a restaurant greets you, for example, and then asks what you’d like to drink. After you’ve established your preference, the conversation usually moves on to what you’d like to eat. You don’t need to speak the server’s language to be able to let them know what you’d like. You just work within the natural pattern of the conversation.
Did you watch Bruno Mars perform the song Valerie on the Video Music Awards last year? I was watching with my wife and she was curious how the dancers all knew to move at the exact same time. Watch the performance once and see if you can tell. Click HERE or on the arrow in the video box below. Try not to be distracted by Katy Perry’s blockhead hat.
Could you tell how the performers knew exactly when to change steps? Was there someone cuing them from off stage or was Mars giving them a signal? No, it’s much simpler than that. The dancers were in sync because they were innately aware of the pattern of the rhythm of the song. Valerie is written in an 8-bar blues pattern, which simply means that the structure of the song is a repeating pattern of eight measures (or sections) of four beats each. When the dancers reach the seventh bar (four beats before the loop repeats itself), they count “one, two, three, four” and they know it’s the beginning of the pattern and time for them to spin.
Try it yourself. Watch the video again and count along to the beat. Start at the beginning of the song and count it this way: one, two, three, four. Two, two, three, four. Three, two, three, four, and so on until you get to seven, two, three, four. If you count properly, you’ll find that when you get to the fourth beat of seven, two, three, four, the dancers will magically change direction or steps. Really. Do it a few times and you’ll predict their moves without counting. You’ll just feel when it’s time for them to switch. To try it, click HERE or on the arrow in the video again.
That’s the power of patterns. Besides being a good way to coordinate dancers, it’s also a great way to build your brand value. Because that same confident knowledge that told you when the dancers would spin around is the same feeling your customers can have about what your brand means to them.
In my last book, Building Brand Value: Seven Simple Steps to Profitable Communications, point seven is Repeat. Repeat. Repeat. It explains how repetition provides the comfortable framework that binds your customers closer to your brand by showing them exactly what to expect from you. Your repeated good behavior, dependable quality, and consistent messaging, all build a sense of trust between you and your clients that presages and reinforces the reasons they do business with you. That is, your customers know what to expect before they purchase from you and they feel comfortable that they got what they wanted after the transaction.
The dancers and musicians in Bruno Mars’ band can concentrate on what they’re doing because they know what to expect from the song and their front man: When they get to the fourth beat of the seventh measure it’ll be time for them to switch steps. The reliably repeated rhythms set up a predictable and comfortable environment within which they can operate to the best of their abilities.
What works for musicians such as Phil Allen and Bruno Mars, and for linguists, can work for you, too. Creating similarly trustworthy patterns is a simple yet increasingly significant way to build your brand and your business. Because just like the performers on Mars’ stage, your customers can purchase from you more comfortably, more reliably, and more often because they know exactly what to expect from you each and every time.